Welcome to nuevo cumbia, a style of music that originated in Columbia and became bastardised by each country it visited, taking on all these crazy traditional Amazonian and Andes influences, mashing them with twangy surf guitar and 60’s psychedelia and even electronic music. Or DJ culture, because by the time it’s come to Melbourne it’s taken on a sort of mash between psychedelic chicha, dancehall, the Tex Mex big beat electronics of scary folks like the Nortec Collective, and the faux dub throb of Burnt Friedman. This Melbourne duo (plus guests) have everything you need. The rusty windmill at the start of Once Upon A Time In The West, donkeys braying and all manner of dusty samples wrenched from old bits of authentic vinyl. This has also got them into a bit of trouble as despite the seamless mix of samples and live instrumentation, as well as their pretty amazing production work rendering most of the tunes almost unrecognisable from their originals, their failure to clear samples has this collection deemed as a mix-tape.
But it’s a cracker, as they’ve taken on the upbeat joyous feel of cumbia with ease. Their music is designed for the dance-floor, bottom heavy music based on big simple party beats over which accordion, the occasional trumpet, the old timer samples and the donkeys play. What separates this from most other mix-tapes you will hear is the amount of production work, often the samples are used primarily for vocals, introduced at the beginning of the tunes, then done away with, allowing the cosmonauts to do their thing, and only brought back to tie things up at the end. But it’s a painfully short disc, clocking in at an infuriating 25 minutes, the problem being they get the party started but then leave you hanging. Though that may be what the repeat button is for. So if you’re interested in authentic traditional Melbourne electronic cumbia you’ve come to the right place.
Bob Baker Fish